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smoked pastrami piled high
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5 from 2 votes

Smoked Pastrami - A Beginner's Guide

Learn how to prepare tender Smoked Pastrami at home. It's seasoned with a homemade spice blend and simply delicious!
Prep Time6 d
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Total Time6 d 5 hrs
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 160kcal
Author: Hilda Sterner


  • Smoker
  • Spice or coffee grinder


  • lbs beef brisket

Brisket Brine

  • 1 quart cold water
  • cups kosher salt
  • cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon corned beef spices (recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon pink curing salt
  • 1 small yellow onion (sliced)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Brisket Crust Spices

  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon corned beef spices (recipe)


Prepare the Brine

  • Mix brine ingredients together over low heat until the sugar and salt dissolve completely. Allow the mixture to cool.
  • Once cool, pour the brine over the brisket making sure that it is fully submerged in the liquid. Place in the refrigerator for 5 days, turning the brisket daily. 
  • After 5 days, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off. Soak the brisket in cold water in the refrigerator for 8-hours or overnight.

Prepare Smoked Brisket Rub

  • Toast the spice rub ingredients in a hot pan until fragrant, do not burn. Coarsely grind the spices using a coffee bean grinder (affiliate link). Do not over-grind the spices, you don't want to make a fine powder.
  • Remove the brisket from the water and pat dry. Coat completely with the spice rub and place it on a rack over a tray, refrigerate overnight. The next morning, bring brisket to room temperature.

Brisket Smoking Instructions

  • Turn the smoker on and fill with pellets. Set the temperature to 225° F. Choose Super Smoke. When the smoker is ready, place the brisket directly on the grill and insert the probe into the thickest part. Set the probe temperature to 160° F
  • When the brisket reaches 160° F (mine took 2 ½ hours), remove it from the grill. Pour 2 cups of water into a deep pan, then place a rack over it. Put the brisket on the rack, making sure it's not sitting in the water. Cover the pan with foil and seal. 
  • Place the wrapped brisket on the grill and re-insert the probe. Set the probe temperature to 200° F.
  • When the pastrami is ready, remove the pan from the smoker and allow the pastrami to rest for 30 minutes in the sealed pan before slicing it into thin slices against the grain.


  • To fully submerge the brisket in brine, I used a 2-gallon Ziploc bag (affiliate link). They come in handy for many recipes!
  • If you don't want to brine the meat for 5 days you can cut the time down to 3 days. It should still taste amazing!
  • In a pinch, you can substitute pickling spices for my corned beef blend.
  • Which flavor pellet you use in this smoked pastrami recipe is a matter of preference. Try hardwoods like oak, hickory, or alder. If you prefer fruitwoods, consider apple, maple, cherry, and pecan.
  • If you want to make a deli-style pastrami sandwich, start with rye bread or my personal favorite, sourdough. Slather the bread with mustard, then pile on lots of thinly sliced pastrami, Swiss cheese, diced onions, and pickles. Enjoy!


Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 780mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 2g